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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how a combination of last-minute shoppers and the realities of the calendar - Christmas falls on a Sunday and Hanukkah starts the day before - could combine to create a "perfect e-commerce storm" that could end up raining on the delivery parade for e-commerce customers.

All this is happening as the National Retail Federation (NRF) is projecting that November-December e-commerce sales will be up 10 percent this year, accounting for as much as 18 percent of total holiday sales.

"There already have been some signs of pressure on the delivery giants’ networks as consumers order online in record numbers, and carriers have a limited amount of space in their planes next week to accommodate last-minute holiday orders," the Journal writes.

" Inc. aims to take advantage of the surge in last-minute demand with a service it dubs 'Procrastinator’s Delight,' offering one- or two-hour delivery via its Prime Now service until midnight Dec. 24. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is also offering in-store pickups of online orders as late as 6 p.m. Dec. 24, provided the order was placed by that same time the day before.

"To plan for 11th-hour orders, retailers have been working with delivery companies for months to forecast demand, booking space in UPS and FedEx planes for express delivery the week before Christmas. The U.S. Postal Service said it would deliver in select locations on Christmas Day."

All of this planning and scrambling, the Journal writes, come "as retailers and delivery companies look to avoid past years’ delivery snafus, which have surfaced as e-commerce becomes an increasingly popular way to holiday shop. Last year, UPS successfully delivered on time, while FedEx’s network experienced problems which led to retailer complaints and Christmas Day deliveries."

There are costs to consumer procrastination and the ways in which retailers and shipping companies respond: "A rough holiday season in 2013 meant $200 million in extra costs for UPS, while Amazon provided $20 gift certificates to inconvenienced shoppers. A number of retailers refunded either shipping costs or the entire cost of the order. Some retailers ask customers to pay for last-minute express shipping. But often they absorb the costs themselves to keep customers happy."
KC's View:
Perhaps inevitably, there were a lot of stories about the holiday shipping situation over the weekend, with many of them focused on Amazon and how these challenges could affect its profitability. And based on everything I'm reading, Amazon - the leader of the pack - is dealing with all sorts of issues ... not only last minute customers, but also a shipping infrastructure that is resisting being pushed as far and as fast as Amazon wants to push it.

The problem, if it is one, for every e-tailer is that consumers don't really care about their problems. They just want what they want, when they want it ... and the businesses that meet those demands are the ones that will generate trust and additional business.